Lawful processing conditions for special category data

'Special category data' is a sub-set of 'personal data' which is considered more sensitive, and therefore needs greater protection around its use.
'Special category data' is different to 'personal data' as it is recognised that this type of data could create more significant risks to a person’s fundamental rights and freedoms, for example, by putting those persons at risk of unlawful discrimination.

Special category data includes information about a person's: 
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • political opinion
  • religious or philosophical belief
  • trade union membership
  • genetics
  • biometrics 
  • health
  • sex life 
  • criminal behaviour (allegations as well as convictions)
If you are processing this sort of data you must satisfy and document at least one of the conditions below:


  • The data subject has given explicit consent to the processing of the personal data for the purpose for which it is processed.

  • The processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the data subject or other individual and the data subject is physically or legally incapable of giving consent or the controller cannot reasonably be expected to obtain the explicit consent.

  • The information contained in the personal data has been deliberately made public by the data subject.

  • The processing is necessary for the exercise of a right or power imposed by enactment.

  • The processing is necessary in order to comply with a court order or judgement.

  • The processing is necessary for a health or social care purpose. Includes the purpose of preventative or occupational medicine, the assessment of the working capacity of an employee or worker, medical diagnosis, the provision of medical, health or social care or treatment, or the management of medical, health or social care systems and services.

  • The processing is necessary for reasons of public health.

  • The processing is necessary for the purpose of, or in connection with legal proceedings (including prospective legal proceedings), discharging any court or tribunal functions, obtaining legal advice or otherwise for the purposes of establishing, exercising or defending legal rights.

  • The processing is necessary for the administration of justice or the exercise of any function of the Crown, a Law Officer of the Crown, the States or a public committee.

  • The processing is necessary for a law enforcement purpose.

  • The processing is in the context of not-for-profit organisations that exist for political, philosophical, religious or trade-union purposes.

  • The processing is necessary for historical or scientific purposes.

  • The processing is necessary for the purposes of equal opportunity.

  • The processing is authorised by regulation or other enactment (see 'special authorisations' document).